Federal Daily News

Bill would trim DOD workforce by 15 percent

A California congressman has introduced a bill that would cut the federal civilian defense workforce by 15 percent by 2020.

According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the legislation—dubbed the Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees (REDUCE) Act (H.R. 4257)—would create a more efficient civilian workforce at the Defense Department by requiring it to make workforce cuts "in a systematic manner without compromising our ability to maintain a strong national defense over the long term."

The bill would give the secretary of defense authority to spur the reductions through voluntary separation incentive payments and voluntary early retirement offers.

DOD's Senior Executive Service career workforce also would be reduced under the bill to 1,000 by 2020 and be maintained at that level or less from fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2025.

“The growth of the civilian workforce within the DOD continues to create a significant budgetary burden but, more importantly, if left unchecked it will negatively impact our men and women in uniform,” Calvert said in a statement . “Secretary Hagel’s recently announced military reduction plan trims the wrong side of the DOD. It would negatively impact our troops, compromise our national security, while failing to make the tough but necessary decisions needed to trim the civilian workforce at the DOD.”

Calvert said savings realized from the cuts should remain within DOD and be used to fund weapons systems, readiness, resetting the force and "providing for our fighting men and women in uniform."

Among the original co-sponsors of the bill is House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

The American Federation of Government Employees has come out in opposition to the bill, which the group said would slash the defense workforce by almost 120,000 employees.

“Rep. Ken Calvert of California claims to be a staunch supporter of the military and an advocate of reducing the nation’s debt, yet his bill would undermine DOD’s ability to perform its mission and drive up costs to untold levels,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.

Cox maintained that the bill would "hamstring the department" and force it to use contractors and military personnel. The labor leader called the bill "an irresponsible excuse at governing that will only leave the country more in debt.”

Cox said that Congress last year already passed a provision that requires the department to cut the civilian workforce by the same percentage as the reduction in the military workforce by 2017, which will downsize the workforce by s minimum of 40,000 jobs.

“It is already well established that the existing cap on the size of the civilian workforce has resulted in DOD contracting out work at higher costs to taxpayers," he said. "In fact, civilian employees are in such short supply that the Army is increasingly having to use military personnel, who are more costly than civilians and even contractors because of their justifiably superior compensation, to perform routine functions that should be done by civilians.”



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